Delta Changes Award Structure, Pisses On You & Calls It Rain (Or Something)

Delta has changed their frequent flyer program to a new 3-tiered system that, as you probably guessed by now, does not mean you’ll be using fewer miles for award tickets (details here).  In short:  they’ve added a 3rd tier that now has last-seat availability for 30-50% more miles than the old top tier.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “wait, I thought the old top tier WAS last seat availability.”  You were right — until Delta changed that a little while ago in anticipation of this.  Roundtrip tix in the US will now be 25,000/40,000/60,000 miles depending on availability (ie, you’ll never get a ticket for 25,000 miles again).

What’s most gaulling about this, to be honest, is that Delta is spinning this like it’s a benefit.  From the press release:

“These changes will allow our members to better use their miles when they want, where they want and how they want — with no blackout dates and the ability again to book the last seat on the plane,” said Jeff Robertson, managing director of Delta’s SkyMiles program. “It’s all about Award Travel with flexibility — something our customers have been asking for.”

See…using 3 times as many miles as you used to for a roundtrip award ticket is something you asked for.  Good for you, frequent flyers!

Also annoying is this from the NY Times: “Jeff Robertson, the managing director of Delta’s SkyMiles program, said the number of miles issued by Delta had grown 24 percent from 2004 to 2007, but the number of seats available on its planes did not increase.  “The capacity is just not there,” Mr. Robertson said.

Wait…YOU guys gave out the miles. Your release calls SkyMiles one of “the most successful loyalty programs in the travel industry.”  I see, you’re victims of your own success.  Sheesh.

I’m rarely one to just complain about this kind of stuff, and I more than understand the reasons for the changes.  But does Delta really think that its frequent flyers are excited about this change?  Really?  Aren’t we all adults here?  Let’s just say what’s really going on:  We’re in a rough financial situation and all of us are going to have to kick in to help – that means you, too, passengers.  Get over it.

But no, that’s not how it’s going to be.  Delta upped the 2nd bag fee two days ago to $50 (from $25).  I’m sure frequent flyers were begging for that change as well.


  1. hmm.. thank you very much. usefull information

  2. Super. It took almost a day to find this info. Thanks, great job. :)

  3. You’re absolutely correct with regard to the miles DL is giving away. 10k miles for a car rental? Got it. 20k miles for a hair restoration consultation? Got it. I spent (including gas) about $50 for 30k miles and DL wonders why people have so many miles. And we can only expect capacity to decrease as DL/NW reduce route redundancies and retire older aircraft.

  4. Thank you Delta. I enjoy my new flexibility. I just bend over, grab my ankles and you can place your unavailable reward seat to EU up mine. Please, please keep upgrading your sky miles program, because we ask to be rammed again upon the completion of the fantastic merger with the excellent airline called Northwest. Yipee!